Whisky, haggis and sharing experiences.

Today marked the first, in hopefully many, across the North Sea symposiums,  organised jointly between Sheffield Water Centre and KWR. This gave the opportunity for experts from both UK and Dutch water companies, to exchange ideas and experience on water distribution, from regulation to water quality sensors. We are all at different stages in developing our practices and technology, driven by a range of region specific challenges, yet still found much common ground.

This event took place in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, which thankfully only required me to get on a single train. Once there, it was time for a spot of networking, and getting to know some of our colleagues from across the North Sea. Now, I’m not personally a fan of whisky, but I was quite excited about the whisky tour that had been organised to keep us all entertained. I was rather disappointed that my whisky didn’t taste of bananas, as the scratch card had led me to believe. However, it certainly helped to break the ice and a great evening was had by all, finished off in a pub called ‘The Last Drop’.

Scotch Whisky Collection
The Scotch Whisky Experience houses an impressive collection of untouched bottles of whisky, including an entire chess set!

Today’s format were a number of round table workshops, with presentations from the Dutch water companies and then discussion by all. Everyone had an opportunity to speak and much debate was had. By the end everyone felt like they had been a part of the day rather than purely an observer. Best of all, lunch included some small deep fried balls of haggis. Not quite haggis, neeps, and tatties, but close enough!


For me one of the most interesting discussions was around water quality (WQ) sensors. Vitens kicked things off with a fantastic presentation on VIP, the Vitens Innovation Playground. Much like the new Anglian Water Shop Window, this provides an area in which to showcase some cutting edge technology and demonstrate what can be done. Here they have made use of optical sensors to monitor some basic water quality parameters such as turbidity. With much talk of the water distribution network being treated as a black box, it is great to hear enthusiasm for investing in hardware that will allow us to try and understand what is happening in what is, undoubtedly, our largest assets.

My own project focuses more on the hydraulic properties that can be monitored. However, I am becoming increasingly more aware of how important it is to understand the intrinsic link between WQ and hydraulic parameters.


  1. Not all of the bottles were untouched ; I guess that the previous owner/collector could not ressist the temptation.
    Funny enough, we did receive today a questionnaire from KWR with regards the status and our experiences with smart metering.
    I assume we can’t stop the train ……. and we won’t

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